Don’t Tell the Nazis

Scholastic. Dec. 2019. 240p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781338310535.
Gr 5 Up–Following up on earlier titles such as Making Bombs for Hitler and Stolen Girl, Skrypuch again crafts an evocative story based on real events. Krystia, around 12 years old, is living under Soviet occupation in a small Ukrainian village in 1941. When the Germans arrive, the townspeople are initially celebratory, anticipating that their lives will improve, but their hopes are soon dashed. Krystia is not Jewish, but she and her family are horrified as their Jewish neighbors begin to be persecuted. When more German people arrive in the village, Krystia learns about the varying levels of classification used by the Nazis. The “Master Race” consists of Aryans, Germans, and Volksdeutsche. Anyone else, including Ukrainians, are considered “lesser” or subhuman, with Jewish people at the bottom of the list. Many Jewish villagers are killed outright, while Krystia’s family slowly starves as they are forced to give their food and livestock to the Volksdeutsche settlers. When a Nazi commander discovers hidden Jews in Krystia’s home, her mother is killed for the crime, and Krystia is forced to flee. The relative isolation of the rural setting and the Ukrainian point of view set this novel apart from the majority of World War II accounts, and Krystia is believable as a young girl forced into heroism by extraordinary circumstances.
VERDICT A harrowing, suspenseful follow-up for readers of Skrypuch’s earlier books or Ruta Sepetys’s Between Shades of Gray.

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